Vulnerable refugees evacuated out of Libya land in Timisoara
Amidst an increasingly volatile security situation in Tripoli, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency successfully evacuated 85 people, refugees from Syria, Sudan and Eritrea, to Timisoara, Romania. Here they will spend a few weeks at UNHCR’s Emergency Transit Facility before flying onwards to Norway.
Amidst an increasingly volatile security situation in Tripoli, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency successfully evacuated 85 people, refugees from Syria, Sudan and Eritrea, to Timisoara, Romania. Here they will spend a few weeks at UNHCR’s Emergency Transit Facility before flying onwards to Norway. On the same day another 135 vulnerable people were evacuated from Libya to Niger.
Many of the evacuated had been held in detention centres for several months and were suffering from the effects of malnutrition and poor health. They are currently being hosted in UNHCR’s Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) until further solutions for them are found.
“These evacuations are a life-changing and life-saving escape for refugees trapped in detention in Libya,” said UNHCR Chief of Mission in Libya Roberto Mignone. “Refugees and migrants in detention centres often suffer squalid conditions and are at risk of being sold to traffickers and smugglers. This shows what a lifeline resettlement can be.”
UNHCR staff endured significant security challenges and restrictions on movement to complete the evacuation as tensions amongst rival militias increase, resulting in intermittent exchanges of fire and rockets falling on Tripoli airport.
The individuals involved were the first to be evacuated from Libya since June.
The successful completion of the evacuation brings the total number of people evacuated from Libya by UNHCR to 1997 since they began in December 2017.
UNHCR is grateful to Libyan authorities for providing access to the evacuees, and welcomes the efforts of resettlement countries in coming forward with offers of places for those trapped in Libya. However, with many more in Libya requiring urgent evacuation, UNHCR implores resettlement countries to speed their procedures for further places to become available.
“People are being intercepted off the Libyan coast faster than we can evacuate them,” said Mignone. “We are deeply grateful for all those who have come forward with resettlement places but the simple truth is we need more evacuations, more often.”